The Real Food Ingredient I’ve Mostly Stopped Buying

It was one of the first real food ingredients I wrote about when I started this blog. It made the top of the list on this post. I recommended it highly and always stocked up to keep it on hand. This goes to show that we can never stop learning and never stop changing what works best for our families.

The Real Food Ingredient I've Mostly Stopped Buying

Is it butter? Did I stop buying butter?

Girl, are you crazy? I did not stop buying butter.

But I have realized that I’m buying less and less sucanat.

Why am I buying less sucanat?

There are several reasons. Allow me to share:

1. Our grocery bill is a killer. Some things had to go.

As the boys have gotten older – our grocery bill has more than doubled with their teenage appetites. I’ve found that I had to make some compromises on what I consider to be “less important” items in order to make sure we’re still eating plenty of nourishing foods. It doesn’t make sense to me for hold out on the fruits and vegetables so that we can afford to buy sucanat for our brownies.

2. Sucanat is better for us, but it is still sugar.

While sucanat does have some nutritional value, our bodies still recognize it for exactly what it is: sugar.

There is a clear difference in sucanat and regular white sugar. I love that sucanat has many nutrients still intact – so when we eat sucanat, our bodies can utilize its nutrients. Great. But I’m not relying on sucanat as a main source of nourishment. Our primary sources of nourishment come from our meals, not our desserts. If we don’t eat sucanat, our bodies won’t be deprived of important vitamins and minerals. We’re getting those from other food sources.

Any sugar – even the natural sugars like sucanat, honey, and maple syrup – can effect our bodies negatively even if they do offer some nutrients here and there. Thus, making sucanat less of a priority only makes sense for our family right now.

3. We’re eating less sugar overall.

Well, at least I am. And Matt is. The kids…well. They still like their sweets and you can read more of my thoughts on this matter here.

Overall, I’m baking fewer sweet treats to have on hand. Also, I’ve learned to cut down the sugar in the treats I do make. In summary, we go through less sucanat because I’m not stirring two cups of it into a batch of brownies every other day. Good grief, I used to. I was such a sugaraholic!!

I love only using 1/2 cup of sugar in a recipe that originally called for 2 cups – and turning out a product that still tastes amazing. Why, Betty Crocker? Why??

Low Sugar Super Moist Chocolate Cake

What I Am Using Instead of Sucanat

More and more, I’m learning to use Stevia to sweeten our treats. It has taken some trial and error to find the correct amount to use so that our smoothies, frostings, and custards will be sweet enough but not bitter. We’ve gotten the hang of it now. I love it!

I’ve tried my hand at making Homemade Stevia Extract, but I’m not confident enough in my efforts to share the recipe with you yet. I stick with NuNaturals brand, which I have found to be the best tasting with ingredients I trust.

For baked goods, I frequently use regular ol’ brown sugar from the store. It saves us money, and that is important right now.

I also still use real maple syrup and our wonderful local raw honey. But I’ve cut back on the quantity of those too now that I’ve learned that I can still turn out delicious treats with a lesser amount of sweetener!


I Haven’t Stopped Buying Sucanat Completely

I really like the taste of sucanat in certain items. I haven’t stopped buying it altogether. I’ve just stopped making it a grocery priority. I watch for online sales on sucanat at Olive Nation or Amazon and I grab it if the price is right. But I’ve definitely stopped buying 25 pound bags every few months. Whoa, Nellie. The grocery budget says “no way” right now.

So how about you?

Are you a fan of sucanat? Have you found a good source to keep the cost down? Have you found that you compromise on certain items in order to stay within your real food grocery budget?


  1. Nancy says

    The best Stevie I have found is the Trim Healthy Mama brand, it tastes great. My family has committed to sugar free for a year. I’m already seeing benefits, better attitudes and healthier looking bodies. Please share some of your Stevie sweetened recipes. :)


    Laura Reply:

    This link will take you to my latest low sugar recipes, many of which use stevia. :)


  2. says

    I’ve never liked baked goods using sucanat for the sweetener. I have always thought the reason for that is that sugar IS an important part of the baking equations. It contributes to sweetness, yes, but more importantly to the texture of baked goods. Sucanat just doesn’t work like sugar in that regard.

    Also, as you said, sugar is sugar once it’s gone into our bodies.

    However, I do absolutely insist that the sugar that I use when baking- whether it be white or brown- be 100% cane sugar. Sugars that contain beet sugars can contain GMO’s, which I think are utterly important to avoid. In addition, I’ve dabbled in candy-making, and beet sugar reacts differently when making candy and often times the candy doesn’t turn out. Cane sugar only. Unless I’m using honey- which I get raw from a farm just five miles away. Or maple syrup, which I also get from a farm ten miles away. :)


  3. Jenny Z says

    Thanks so much for being honest about this. As my five kids (ages 4-15) get older, they are very active in sports and are eating us out of house and home! I have had to make a lot of decisions to help with the grocery budget. After all, a non-organic orange is still better than potatoe chips! My kids have food allergies and I have to cook from scratch as much as possible, but organic baking supplies are outrageous. So I make due. I have decided everything in moderation. They get lots of fruit and veggies so a little real sugar is fine in my eyes.


  4. Angela says

    I usually buy Zulka brand sugar from Wal-Mart and then make my own brown sugar by adding molasses. It saves a little money and it still isn’t white sugar. I too have cut down on sugar in my recipes and we don’t miss it at all. I find that I am less tired throughout the day when I eat less sugar – a win win for sure.


    K. Ann Guinn Reply:

    I found that brand at our WalMart here, too. It is a great deal when they have it in stock!


  5. Laura D says

    We use honey crystals (granulated dehydrated cane juice and honey mixture) for baking, sprinkling, sweet tea, etc. It is more economical than using liquid honey in all those instances. We do use maple syrup and liquid honey sparingly and all these sweeteners less than we originally switched from processed/white sugar/hfcs foods. A large bucket lasts us at least a yearand buying in bulk that way cost averages to equal white sugar.


  6. Angie Brillhart says

    What made you decide to switch to Stevia? Was it the price or the fact that it is a more natural sweetener even than sucanat?


    Laura Reply:

    It was mainly because my body can no longer tolerate much sugar. I decided to try stevia, which works great for me since it isn’t a sugar at all. Overall, I cut back on sweets no matter what sweetens it. But when I do have something sweet, stevia is my choice. I love that it is an herb – so much better for us!


    Karen Dee Davidson Reply:

    Yep. Go stevia! I hated it at first when I tried it years ago, but, stuck with it. Just like my beloved dry PBFit peanut butter. Now I love them both.


  7. Tiffany says

    I do like sucanat and use it sparingly. Since we are beekeepers (and my brother’s family makes maple syrup), we mostly use honey seconded by maple syrup to sweeten pretty much everything in our home.


  8. says

    I love using coconut sugar!! It is made from the plant of the coconut, which makes it practically a vegetable, right?? ;) It is a great, easy substitute for brown sugar, I can’t even tell the difference!


  9. Karen says

    Like you, we’ve cut way back over the years and I use stevia quite a bit. I actually buy honey granules from
    A food co op. It is dehydrated honey mixed with sucanat. It is a more delicate flavor for whipping cream etc. My question is that when you cut back on the sugar in a cookie or brownie recipe, do you need to change anything else in the recipe so that the texture doesn’t change? Thanks!


    Jill Reply:

    I have routinely cut the sugar in muffins, quickbreads, pies, cakes – everything. I don’t notice a difference in the texture. You just need to (almost always) beat it with any eggs or fats called for in the recipe. This process is what creates the texture & any needed chemical reaction.

    Don’t just dump it in with the dry ingredients as it needs to react with the fat. The fat is what gives baked goods it’s texture. For example, you need a good amount of a solid fat (like shortening or butter) which needs to melt to react with heat to create steam which then creates the flakes in a pie crust. If you used a liquid oil or no oil at all, you wouldn’t get that reaction and you’d have a nasty tasking crust with no texture.

    So, alter the sugars, yes. Be careful altering the use of fats.


  10. Shelley says

    Thanks for this very timely article! I just noticed that my sucanat was very low and I was ordering from Azure, but I took it out of my cart because we need to cut down on costs and it was too expensive. We’ve been cutting down on our sweeties lately too, and when I bake I try to cut down the amount of sugar in a recipe. Your chocolate cake recipe is very good, by the way! I use local honey and maple syrup when I can, and have been buying some organic cane sugar from Aldi’s and Walmart for baked goods that need a lighter look and taste. This year we are going to try to eat more fruit for a dessert instead of baked goods.


  11. Jill says

    My compromise is buying regular grocery store meat. Yes, I know…hormones, poor treatment of animals, threat of viruses from being packed into pens and cages. But my family cannot subsist relying on nuts for protein and I hate tofu/soymeats. So we eat meat at every meal. Unfortunately we cannot afford to by organic/free range meat.

    We’re due to buy a bigger house, which will leave room for a big freezer and the possibility of acquiring at least some of our meat from a more healthful producer but for now, I don’t feel guilty for eating grocery store meat.


  12. Marie B. says

    We also have reduced the amount of sugars we consume and I’ve tried to cut it out of my own diet completely, using only Stevia and on occasion a small amount of maple syrup or honey when I sweeten certain things. I still have quite a bit of Sucanat left as I’ve been using Billington’s Light Musovado for baking. I ordered it in Nov. 2014 over a year ago for $17.63 with a coupon and s&s on Amazon but now it has gone up quite a bit so I don’t know if I’ll get it again when I’ve used up my current supply.


  13. Katy says

    I’ve honestly never tried it, but I appreciate you being open about what works for you and your family. I learn so much from your site, and I love knowing that you will be honest about your experiences, even if it goes against something you said before. I am very frugal, so it’s hard for me to splurge on something more expensive even if it is considered a healthier version of something. I buy a huge amount of fruit and vegetables – my kids are great eaters, but I may not buy the expensive organic varieties. I feel that my cooking most things from scratch, gardening, getting fresh eggs from our chickens. and buying our beef from a local farmer all help to not make me feel guilty for having some delicious home made desserts – which include….sugar. :)


  14. says

    Once again, thanks so much, Laura, for expressing your honest and guilt-relieving opinion on this topic. This is one reason I love your blog so much!

    I mostly use brown sugar for baking, as it’s one of the cheaper sugars, yet still more “healthy” than white.

    We enjoy organic cane sugar in our coffee and tea mostly (thanks to a good deal at our local BJ’s, and especially when they offer a coupon).

    I still buy white sugar for some baked goods, and I have to have it in the summer to make our hummingbird nectar (which makes me wonder a little about how “unnatural” it us, as that seems to be the only sugar that is recommended to feed hummers???).

    I use honey sometimes, but “save” the local raw honey for limited use for health purposes; I have to rely on cheaper store-bought “regular” honey for baking, etc., due to cost as well.

    Lastly, we try to have real maple syrup on hand, but admittedly, use “non-high-fructose-corn syrup” store-bought syrup or homemade brown sugar syrup in lieu of real maple to cut down costs.

    I agree that our main nutrients should come from real food and not sugar, and look forward to following your example in trying to cut sugar down in my family’s diets.


  15. Mitzi says

    Wonder about a combo of Sucanat and stevia for those treats that stevia doesn’t seem to cut it for. I have found that straight Stevia isn’t always the best flavour.


    Laura Reply:

    Yes, that is definitely a great idea!


  16. Karyn says

    No, No, you can’t! I just got a 50# bag of sucanat from Azure Standard — I only recently found a drop location near me and it was the first thing I bought. I made your caramel frosting for my birthday cupcakes just last weekend and everybody couldn’t stop about the amazing frosting! I need you to keep putting sucanat recipes out there for me to try. Please, please don’t take them down — at least not until I get through this 50#. I plan to use it for my chocolate chip cookies as I typically use mostly brown sugar for those with ground up oats. And I have other recipes of yours I plan to try. I don’t eat a lot of sweets but I make them for my boys, the office and several church functions.


    Laura Reply:

    Not to worry! I’m not done with it completely, and all of my recipes will continue to say “sucanat or brown sugar” or something like that. I don’t plan on editing any of my archived recipes to read any differently – no time for that! So, you can carry on as normal with your 50# of sucanat! I truly love the stuff, just can’t squeeze as much into the budget as I used to. :)


  17. karen Sexton says

    I am surprised no one has mentioned xylitol, I get it from Azure. Maybe because it is a bit expensive. I do use it sparingly and do not bake much. Over the holidays, I replaced practically every recipe that called for sugar with xylitol. I make calico beans which I think is your recipe Laura. I use xylitol and a bit of blackstrap molasses (Azure). I bring it to potlucks and everyone likes it. Blackstrap is stronger so you can use less. So many treats can be made with just bananas as the sweetener too. I make a cookie for kids called Nikki’s cookie (Google it). They get devoured and are gluten free. I use the mini Enjoy Life chocolate chip it it. (That is my sweet go to, something I could cut down on, the chocolate chips)


    Erika Reply:

    Oh my. I hope you advertise that you use xylitol when you take your dishes to a potluck or other social gathering. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that many people react to. I cannot eat even a bite of anything containing xylitol. It wreaks havoc on my digestive system in a very bad way. I tend to ask about desserts at such gatherings, because a lot of people use Splenda these days and I can’t eat that either, but it wouldn’t occur to me to ask if someone used xylitol in something like baked beans! Now I know!


  18. says

    I am so-o-o with you ! I have started using way less sweetener for my family. Less desserts over all and less sugar in them. It makes more sense to me to use the money on something that feeds well and is less work for this busy Mom. Such as grass-fed beef and good protein.
    Thanks for sharing,Laura!


  19. says

    I would like to use honey in our muffins but not sure how to substitute it. What are your suggestions?


    Laura Reply:

    I usually use half the amount of honey that I would sucanat since honey is stronger. So if I would use 1/2 cup of sucanat, I’d use 1/4 cup of honey. :)


  20. E says

    Hooray for you. I am glad that you wrote this comment. Eating healthy is sometimes expensive. I have started sweeting things with fruit, or just plain doing without. I enjoy your site.


  21. Jane J. says

    I don’t know if you still check comments at the end of the day, but thank you so much for this post. It’s both helpful and encouraging. I’m always trying to find a good balance between healthy and bankruptcy! I wonder if you’d consider sharing which of your older recipes you’ve “retooled” to have less sugar.
    Thanks again


  22. Laurie says

    I am going to check out your Stevia recommendation. I have been burned a couple times when I went to purchase or actually purchased stevia, only to find out the first ingredient is something gross like maltodextrin.


  23. Ali Stewart says

    So if a cake recipe calls for 2 cups of sugar and you cut it to a 1/2 cup, do you need to replace the sugar with anything else? It seems like 1 1/2 cups less of an ingredient would make a big difference the density and mass of a cake. I am all for less sugar. That means I can eat more cake:) Please explain the changes you make when you cut sugar in a recipe by that much.


    Laura Reply:

    I don’t change anything except the sugar amount. It’s amazing how it doesn’t change the outcome! :)


    Ali Stewart Reply:

    That is very surprising and kinda makes you scratch your head! Thanks for the quick reply:)


  24. Jenny says

    i am curious if you have also made changes to your home cleaning, toiletries, etc. to help with the budget. I am finding as my kids get older (girls 15, 13 and 11 and boys 7 and 4) even my toiletry expenses are higher. I have had to make a LOT of sacrifices in lots of areas.


    Laura Reply:

    I have stuck to spending extra on healthier cleaning/toiletry products, but truly cleaning is not my best thing, so I don’t buy/use tons of products.


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